Summer Travel Map

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All's well...

January 29, 2008

Peoria, AZ


Just a quick update: Geri's dental surgery went fine and she's doing well. She was finished at the periodontist's office around 10:30 AM. While uncomfortable and tired, she's been up and around, and even prepared a batch of food for the pups this afternoon.


As an aside, I had to make a quick run to the grocery store for the green beans that go in the dog food, and bumped right up against Super Bowl Mania. Being about 3 miles away from the stadium means that we'll probably run into a few strange things over the next few days. When I tried to pull into the Fry's parking lot, I found the entrance blocked off with these big black semis. As I turned to go to the next entrance, the Budweiser Clydsdales came swinging around the parking lot. About 1/2 of the lot was blocked off and the whole rig was doing laps in front of the store. Now, Fry's is the closest but most inconvenient store to us, primarily because the lot is always hard to maneuver. You can imagine what happens when the Clydsdales take over. I lucked out and found a parking spot out of the way and was able to get in and out with only a minor delay. I took pictures and video with the cell phone, but the quality is lousy.




video

Some people get all the good jobs -- and then there's this guy!


Today’s the Big Day

January 29, 2008
Peoria, AZ

Yesterday was an easy day. Geri did some house cleaning and had her Physical Therapy appointment in the afternoon. I cleaned up some “paperwork” (so many things are electronic these days that term really doesn’t apply) in the study, including finalizing changes to many online accounts due to a new expiration date for a credit card. The convenience of having bills taken care of automatically is great, but a simple thing like getting a new card due to expiration can cause a whole bunch of work. It’s surprising how many places financial information is stored, even if we try to minimize it for security purposes. You’d think that card issuers and payees would come up with a way to automatically update expiration date changes.

What’s even more surprising is the number of places I had to call because I couldn’t change the expiration online. This is goofy. If automatic payments can be set up online, you should be able to change them. Of course, the other end of the spectrum has web sites that show an alert when you log on (“Your credit card expires this month. Click here to update the expiration date.”) and make it very easy. If they’d just push this into an email, I’d be a happy guy.

Today is Geri’s tooth extraction. In fact, I’m writing this as I sit in the periodontist’s waiting room. Her appointment was at 8:00 AM. We walked in the door at 7:58 and she didn’t even have a chance to sit down before they whisked her back. This tooth has been bothering her for well over a year now, so it’s really a good thing that she’s getting it removed. It’s a rear molar that anchors a bridge, so there will be follow-up work to insert two implants, and it’ll all involve some pain and expense, but the relief from the ongoing pain, discomfort, and infections will be worth it.

Scheduling on all this will be a little tricky, but it should work out OK if there are no complications. Since the tooth being removed won’t get an implant (just the two in front of it, where the current bridge is, will), extraction site healing won’t be an issue and she should be able to get the implants installed in March, after we get back from our next trip. This assumes that a bone graft isn’t required to build up the area for the implants; we’re keeping our fingers crossed that grafting isn’t needed.

Once the implants are in, it’ll be back to the primary dentist for the caps that go on them. Everybody gets a piece of the wallet. We’ve gotten a couple of different estimates on the timing there: the dentist said 4-6 weeks and the implant guy said 4-6 months. If the former is true, we might try to push to get all this done before we leave for the summer. If the latter is true, the caps will be on hold until we get back in the fall. I suppose we’ll know more about that once we see how the extraction is evaluated, and have a chance to schedule the next step.

Other than all this, things have been quiet. I used the rainy days as an excuse to get the bread machine out and made a halfway decent rustic loaf, which is already gone (must have been OK). We signed up for a spot at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta again, and the check cleared for that so it looks like we made the cut (this group is limited to 80 coaches). We enjoyed the Fiesta in 2006, and are looking forward to going again. This time, we’ll be with a group of Monaco coaches (last time, we were with the Escapees group) and are supposed to have much better parking spots. Our friends Wayne and Eva have signed up as well, so we’ll have a chance to catch up with them after summer travels.

Well, that’s about it for this morning. Geri should be done soon, and I’ll post a follow-up later.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Catching up between the raindrops

January 27, 2008
Peoria, AZ

We’re well into a real soaking rain storm as I write this, but more on that later. The last couple of days have been busy, as usual. When I got back from the Land Rover dealer on Friday, we made a quick run to the coach to drop off stuff (clean bedding and towels) and pick up a few things we forgot to unload. We had Skillet Lasagna for dinner, using up ingredients we’d bought while on the road but didn’t get a chance to use.

Saturday started out slowly. We slept in for a change, which was nice. After coffee, we went across the street to help Clisby with her new – and first, at age 82 – computer. We got her set up and connected to the Internet, and pointed her in the direction of some books and classes.

Since the forecast was for rain, I decided that I could run the cable I needed for the second DirecTV HD receiver in the kitchen. I’d bought it on eBay last week, so we were ready to go. I tapped into the spare wires coming from the LNB/Multi-Switch, fixing a bad connection to the original DVR while I had the ladder out. I was able to run the cable up under the eaves and along the side of the house to the attic over the garage. Due to the layers of insulation above the house proper, the attic over the garage is the only accessible place to work. Fortunately, the kitchen TV is positioned along the rear of the garage, so it’s easy to get to. Once I had the cable run inside, I knew I could finish the job today, irrespective of the weather.

For dinner, we quickly did up the last of the Omaha Steaks burgers we’d gotten as a Christmas gift. We used up the few odd rolls we had hanging around and finished off a jar of roasted red peppers and some value wine, so it was a “what do we have around” kind of meal.

Last night’s forecast called for up to 1.5” of rain in this storm, which is a lot for this area. It’s nothing like Southern California is experiencing, of course, but I’m sure we’ll see a few cars washed away by high water on the 10:00 news. I was able to finish wiring in the satellite cable, mounted a shelf in the pantry for the receiver, placed a new over-the-air antenna in the attic for local HD channels, and split the signal off for the TV in the spare bedroom. Everything has been tested out and the wires have been buttoned up to finish off the installation.

Tonight, Geri made Asian Chicken Soup and Pork Wontons. She’d gotten the recipe from our friend Eva, and this was her first time “solo”. Well, she learned well, and it was fantastic. As usual, we’ll have enough for a second meal. This is especially important this week, since Geri’s scheduled to get that troublesome tooth extracted at 8:00 AM on Tuesday. She’ll be on soft foods for a while, we suspect. The whole week is shaping up to be busy since, in addition to the dental work on Tuesday, Geri has PT (Physical Therapy) on Monday and Friday, and I have to take the Range Rover in to have the coolant leak fixed on Wednesday. At least the weather is supposed to clear up by tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Time Flies…

January 25, 2008
Scottsdale, AZ

Wow, time really flies when you’re having fun! I can’t believe I haven’t had a chance to update the blog in so many days. Well, here’s a quick update:

We had a great time in Quartzsite, making new friends and catching up with past acquaintances. Although the overnight lows were on the chilly side, things warmed up each day and the wind didn’t stir up too much dust.

We took a ride to the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge which was OK but a bit of a disappointment. We got in a bit of off-road driving (Geri: “Any time you want to do this with other guy friends, have at it.”) but saw no wildlife and had no photo opps (high-tension power lines on one side and a string of yellow “gas pipeline” signs on the other. Maybe we just went in the wrong entrance road. We (er, I) will have to try it again at some point.

We had potluck dinners several nights, and I managed to get over and go through many of the vendors’ displays. The RV tent opened last weekend, and that was interesting but I didn’t feel the need to buy anything, having just spent the budget at Indio. I did find some tools in the other vendor areas and filled in a couple of stray wrenches that I’d needed. In general, I found prices to include few bargains, with some things I saw cheaper at Harbor Freight. As long as a cash sale didn’t generate sales tax (Quartzsite has raised theirs to near 12%), I suppose the total cost would be a good thing.

Here are the links to the remaining Quartzsite pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/QuartzsiteDay5

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/QuartzsiteDay67

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/QuartzsiteCrowdJanuary2008

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/QuartzsiteFromBillCrawford

We reluctantly headed out last Monday for home, leaving mid-morning and arriving back in Peoria mid-afternoon. We’re getting pretty good at getting things ready for storage, with Geri unloading the refrigerator/freezer and getting all the laundry, and me dumping the tanks (we have a sewer cleanout in the front yard and the macerator pump works great) and doing the heavy lifting. We were all set in about 2 hours, and had the coach back in storage before dark. Of course, then we started making a list of the stuff we forgot to grab, but we were able to make a quick run back to pick up the remaining items when we dropped off the clean laundry later in the week.

The primary reason for our return date was that Geri had an appointment with a periodontist on Tuesday. She has a tooth that she’s been “nursing” for over a year, and we’re going to finally get it fixed. She’ll need an extraction and two implants over the next several months, and it looks like everything will fit in fine with our schedule. She’s not looking forward to the work, or the expense, but a bad tooth can wear on your constitution and general health, so we’re moving forward. We’ve met several people who get dental services in Mexico and that’s a definite possibility for the future but we’re not interested in starting off with such a major operation. We’ve done enough research to know that Algodones, a town just across the border from Yuma, has a great concentration of US-trained dentists, and have gotten a personal recommendation for at least one of them. I’m thinking we may try to make a run down there for a cleaning or something next winter.

Otherwise, life back at home has been quiet. Geri’s been back to Physical Therapy for her bursitis, we’ve had a few great dinners (catfish, porterhouse, baby backs), I’ve gotten a backlog of stuff in the study cleaned up, and it actually rained .25” yesterday. Today, I’m spending the morning at the Land Rover dealer getting the Range Rover checked out. It’s been dripping coolant for a while now, and they found a leaking valve that needs to be replaced. They won’t have said valve until early next week, so I’ll be back here on Wednesday. It’s still warranty work, though, and they have a Wi-Fi hotspot in the waiting area so I’m able to occupy my time productively. And, they always wash the vehicle before returning it, so I luck out on that front (it was pretty dirty from the travel and time in the desert). Woo-hoo!

Well, they just pulled the Range Rover around, so my work here is done…

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I feel like Alice in Wonderland

Well, folks, for all of you who have ever seen the movie “Mad Max -- Beyond Thunderdome”: that’s where we are!

It is absolutely fascinating. There is no rhyme or reason for the layout of this town called Quartzsite! It is in the middle of the desert with sights to behold that cannot be experienced anywhere. Thousands of RVers descend here during the winter to park free or almost free somewhere. Some people need to be where it’s not too cold or not too hot and enjoy this place in all its glory.

It is like a giant flea market or swap meet. You can find almost anything and everything you were looking for. Speaking of that, I think I will look for one of those hat forms you put on baseball caps to wash them in the dishwasher! Maybe I can find some new rocks to bring home as well.

We saw a whale and a horse drinking water yesterday made out of metal, also I saw a home made RV made out to look like a castle. It was truly ingenious in my book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An “inside day”, with a little end-of-day excitement

January 16, 2008
Quartzsite, AZ

Today started out cloudy, and it stayed that way most of the day. The winds picked up out of the northwest again, and a wind advisory has been in effect this afternoon. The weather didn’t interfere with our plans, since we didn’t really have any. We hung out inside for a while, yakked outside for a while, and started an early dinner. We missed the daily gathering, as Geri was off starting dinner and I was outside trying to get sunset pictures.

All was going well until I came back inside to do my part of the dinner preparations (sautéing the onions for the burgers) and found that Geri had been making shoestring fries with the mandoline. This is a kitchen tool than makes very small slices. It’s excellent for making shoestring fries. It’s also excellent for shaving the end of your finger off if you’re not careful. In general, Geri’s not allowed to use ladders and sharp knives. Mandolines fall into the latter category.



So, instead of onions, it was band-aid time. Actually, numerous band-aids, antibiotic, finger condoms, etc. Hopefully, we’ve got it wrapped up well enough. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.

Here is a link to some other pictures from today:

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/QuartzsiteDay4

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A busy day in the desert

January 15, 2008
Quartzsite, AZ

Today was another crisp, clear day. It was chilly this morning (55°F in the coach this morning when we got up) but warmed up quickly. I think I got some extra sun today, as I can feel a bit of a burn on top of my head (not that hard to imagine, right?). I made a quick trip over to the Post Office. I had to mail our application for a spot at the 2008 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (couldn’t be postmarked before the 15th). With that as the highlight of the day, you can tell that we’re relaxing!

For most of the day, we just hung out around the coach. I started organizing a big bag of keys I brought to sort through. We had a visit from Roger Berke, who moderates a Yahoo! Group that many of us subscribe to, and enjoyed that. Later in the afternoon, we “circled the chairs” and had some chips and dip with a libation. Dinner was the remaining Filet Mignons from Costco in Indio, with a meche salad and foil-roasted new potatoes. It paired well with a “3 Blind Moose” 2005 California Cabernet Sauvignon. We had a nip of the Johnnie Walker Green after dinner while watching Corner Gas (Dave and Sandy will get that).

Here are a few pictures from today…

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/Quartzsite2008Day3

Monday, January 14, 2008

A quiet day in the desert

January 14, 2008
Quartzsite, AZ

Today was a quiet and relaxing day in the desert. We collected rocks to circle the fire pit, and finished deploying the “stuff” we carry around (dog pen, outside stoves, etc.). I helped our organizer, Lew Anderson, post directional signs along the roads (and we use that term loosely) running from the main road to the area where we’re parked. There are several more coaches expected to join us over the next few days. Most people are planning to spend a couple of weeks, while the big RV show is on. We’ve got plans back in Phoenix, so we’ll be leaving in a week. Since this is our first time doing the Quartzsite boondocking thing, the one-week stay will probably be a good introduction.

This afternoon, we took a ride to Parker, a town about 30 miles north of here. It’s one of two places near here (the other being Blythe, CA) where there are “real” grocery stores. Over the next week, we’ll poke around in the local stores, but today we had specific things we needed for later in the week when there will be a couple of potluck dinners with the group. Geri’s planned to make Skillet Lasagna and Mexican Sheppard’s Pie, two of our favorite “on the road” recipes. We got everything we need at the Basha’s in Parker, so we should be good for the rest of the week.

When we got back to our space, Geri whipped up some finger food, making a few chicken quesadillas from leftover materials we had in the fridge from Indio. They were quite good, and a good prelude to a nice pasta dinner.

I’m pretty well caught up on postings and pictures, so I think I’ll call it a night…

Indio Pictures

January 14, 2008
Quartzsite, AZ

As promised, here are some pictures from our stay in Indio.

http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/IndioRallyPictures

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rally done, and moving on to the desert

January 13, 2008
Quartzsite, AZ

We had a great week at the Western Area FMCA Rally in Indio, CA. We got to spend time with our friends, Wayne and Eva, for the week, and had a good time taking advantage of rally activities. We got some shopping done, and had nice dinners each evening. I had two specific things I was interested in shopping for at the rally, and was able to accomplish both.

My first objective was to get an offset hitch extender that would allow me to change the angle on the tow bar from the coach to the Range Rover. The hitch on the coach is a little lower than the front of the SUV, so it’s been pulling on a downward angle. This contributes to uneven tire wear. I was able to get an adapter that raises the hitch on the coach by 2”, resulting in a straight tow bar.

The second thing I was looking for was a fire suppression system for the engine and generator compartments. I’ve seen quite a few YouTube videos of RVs on fire (there aren’t more fires, technology allows the capture of more videos) and I’d like to add protection. I was able to get a “hands on” look at two completely different systems, and purchased the one that I think will work best for us. I’ll probably look to supplement the automatic discharge system with a temperature monitor, but that’ll be a future project.

We finished up the rally activities last night and had our last dinner there. We packed up all the outside stuff in the afternoon, and were ready to roll this morning. We took the short drive to Wayne and Eva’s place a couple of miles away and took care of maintenance activities by refilling the fresh water tank and dumping the holding tanks. Since their house if “RV Friendly”, we were able to do all that and be on the road by 10:00 AM-ish.

Our plan was to meet up with a group of folks with the same brand of motorhome as we have, and spend a week or so at Quartzsite, AZ. It’s a small town at the junction of I-10 and US-95, about 20 miles east of the California-Arizona border. It’s really just a wide spot in the road. There are two exits from I-10, one on each end of town with a main drag running parallel to the Interstate. It could be the world’s largest year-round flea market and, during the winter months, it’s a gathering place for Rvers of all types. The attraction is that the town is surrounded by BLM (Bureau of Land Management) areas called “Long Term Visitor Areas” (LTVAs). You can park off the roads in the desert for $40 for two weeks or $180 for six months. Since many snowbirds are “thrifty”, thousands of them descend on the area during the winter. There are many different “shows” each winter, with the annual “rock and gemstone” and “RV” shows being big draws each January.

We stopped for fuel just over the Arizona line and saved 25 cents/gallon on diesel. We arrived at the designated camping spot earlier than the other three coaches planning to arrive today, so we just unhooked the car and waited by the ranger station, having lunch (leftover chicken and Carne Asada from last night) and enjoying the nice afternoon. The “group leader” (it’s a somewhat informal gathering, but one fellow volunteered to do the coordination) and another coach arrived an hour later and selected the appropriate spot, and we started to “circle the wagons. We had a fourth coach join us late in the day, and there could be another 20 +/- motorhomes join us over the next few days.

I took a few pictures (I know; I haven’t posted Rally pictures yet, but will do so soon), which can be viewed at: http://picasaweb.google.com/GeorgeandGeri/200801QuartzsiteDay1

Well, that’s in for tonight. More to follow tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A World Away From Home

January 8, 2008
Indio, CA

Sorry for the delayed post. We’ve been on the move and getting settled.

Friday was the day we planned to get ready for our 2-week trip. We got things ready in the morning and went to get the coach in the early afternoon. We figured we’d load everything but the refrigerator and take the coach back to storage. Nice plan, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I saw a little coolant leak while the coach was in storage. This was of some concern, since our coaches have had a history of failed radiators due to vibration. It was all dry at the storage site early in the week, as I crawled under there to check. When I brought the coach from storage to the house for loading, I had a heavy-duty drip going. I got a plastic bin under there and headed for the flashlight and rags. By the time I got back, I already had ¼” in the bin. I knew this wasn’t something I could live with until we got back from Indio/Quartzsite.

The coolant was running down the hoses from the forward side of the radiator. I was able to determine that it was the hose going to the Aqua-Hot furnace, on the pre-heat loop. As I felt along the hose, I came to a hydraulic line that was resting on the heater hose and pulled it away. There was the leak, squirting away like a banshee when I pulled the other hose away. I relieved the pressure from the radiator cap and clamped off the hose with vise-grips. Fortunately, there was a hose clamp and fitting just aft of the tag, so I pulled that off and snaked the hose back through the guides. Unfortunately, my arm hit the vise-grips and they popped and I was drenched with coolant. I closed my eyes and mouth ASAP and didn’t get too damaged, and managed to get the end of the hose in the bucket and re-attach the vise grips without causing the EPA to be called. Through all this, Geri was a trouper, running for tools in the garage when needed, and getting me a wet cloth to clean my face after getting flooded with the coolant.

After a quick shower, I dashed off to Napa for replacement hose, clamps, and a nipple to splice it in, and a couple of gallons of coolant. It took all of 10 minutes to splice in the new piece and attach it with zip ties so it wouldn’t rub again, and I replenished the overflow with the 2 gallons of coolant and 1 gallon of water. I was able to get 2+ gallons back in the containers (I had the jug with the hub oil pending recycling), so I probably only lost a quart or so of 50/50 on the road. I flushed everything with water, so I hope we’re OK.

After getting cleaned up again, we finished loading what we could, but decided to leave the coach in front of the house overnight. This was the first time we did that, and it worked out fine. We were able to load our remaining stuff in the morning on Saturday. We hit the road for California around 9:30 AM, just about on schedule. The drive was easy, a little over 4 hours with a rest stop. Since we’d filled the fuel tank shortly before we arrived home in December, we didn’t need to stop for that.

We arrived at Wayne and Eva’s place in Indio and were able to get parked in their driveway with no problems. Their house has an enclosed RV garage, and we just fit in the driveway between the garage and the street. With 50 amp power and a water line, we were all set! In the afternoon, we went to a local market, Cardenas. It was a large, clean supermarket that caters to the Spanish-speaking population. It was interesting to see the majority of the signage in Spanish with only a few in English. They had a great selection of fish, meats, and vegetables at absolutely fantastic prices. We had lunch at their prepared foods counter, and bought what we needed for dinner. Eva made a great chicken dish, and spent the time to teach Geri how to make pork wontons.

On Sunday, Wayne and I took a ride over to the Fairgrounds where the Rally is being held. It turns out that they opened the holding/parking area early, so we decided to get our coaches ready and move over early. I topped off the water and dumped the tanks, and we were able to get parked by mid-afternoon. We went back to the house for dinner, where Eva made a wonderful slow-cooked brisket with vegetables and we were joined by their neighbors, Diane and Will. After dinner and dessert, Geri and I headed back to the coach for the night.

Sunday night, the rains came. It rained fairly heavily overnight, causing the GCFI outlet we were plugged into to trip. We ran the generator to charge up the batteries when we got up in the morning, since it switched over to inverter power automatically.

Yesterday was a quiet day as we got settled in. The Rally doesn’t officially start until Wednesday; we’re just taking advantage of the early arrival opportunity. We hung out, deployed our outside stuff after the weather cleared, and relaxed. Wayne brought over some chicken for the grill and Geri made some neat baked macaroni with secret ingredients. We had some good wine and conversation before calling it a night.

Today was a bit more productive. Eva made slow-cooked pulled pork for dinner. Wayne and I did some shopping for parts for projects that both of us had planned: connecting our gas grills to the low-pressure side of our coach LP tanks. We got most of what we needed, although I need to exchange one fitting tomorrow. We’ll hook it all up and see how it works. This project will allow us to not have to carry two 20 pound LP tanks around with us, increasing safety, reducing weight, and freeing up space. A good deal all the way around, if you ask me.

After dinner, we’re relaxing a bit before calling it an early night. I’ll post some pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Back to normal

January 2, 2008
Peoria, AZ

Well, the house is back to normal, since we did a good job of getting all of the holiday decorations put away yesterday. Geri took care of the tree and other things that hang, and I did the lights, both inside and outside. For whatever reason, it always seems that it takes half the time to put things away than it does to put them out in the first place. We’ve scaled way back, of course, in keeping with our desire to simplify life, so we were all cleaned up in about 2 hours. Good job!

Last night, we made some burgers for dinner. Pat and Al sent us a gift package from Omaha Steaks, so we thawed 4 of the burgers, which were very good. I surprised myself by deciding to cook them inside as opposed to on the grill. We have this large All-Clad griddle that straddles two burners, and I felt the need to use it. I sautéed up half an onion (I’m the only one that likes onions on my burgers) and Geri found some onion rolls (go figure) in the freezer that she thawed out. I realized that she’d planned ahead for this when she brought out the American (her) and Provolone (me) cheese! We had another large potato in the bin, so I grabbed the deep fryer and the fries were ready in 15 minutes. I had a trick up my sleeve as well, having found a bottle of black truffle barbeque sauce that I’d picked up at Dean & De Luca the last time we were in NYC. It was fabulous on the cheeseburgers. The whole thing paired nicely with a bottle Costco’s best Root:1 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

Today started out mostly cloudy, but it cleared in the afternoon. From what I understand, we’re in for more clouds and a chance of rain over the next few days, so today was just an advance peek. At least we’ve warmed up, although we can’t complain much about the weather when compared to what we see from other parts of the continent each day on the news.

After lunch, we packed up the accumulated stuff for the coach, and headed over there with the pups. I took care of a few maintenance items, and Geri put away all the inside stuff we’d stacked up and made the bed. I replaced all the plastic water hose quick disconnects with brass ones, checked the electrolyte levels in the chassis batteries (good), and did some more diagnostic work on the inverter. Customer Support from the manufacturer said to check the impedance across the input and output neutrals before trying to get it to an authorized service center. As expected, the ohm meter didn’t indicate a problem. As part of the test, I went to re-create the problem fault and, darn it, the thing worked fine without the error code. I put it all back together and ran the generator for a while to charge up the batteries before we headed home.

We’ve still got some shopping to do for supplies before we head out, so that’ll probably be on tomorrow’s to-do list. While we’re in Indio (Saturday through the 13th), we’ll be hanging out with friends (Wayne and Eva) and playing it by ear for meals much of the time. On the other hand, we’re planning to stop at Quartzsite, a big boondocking location just east of the California-Arizona border on I-10, for a week on the way back home. This will require us to stock up on groceries and libations, and arrive with full water and fuel and empty holding tanks, as we’ll be parked on BLM (US Bureau of Land Management) land in the short-term stay area. We’ve boondocked (please note: boondock is not the same as boondoggle) before, of course, and we know we should have no issues if we go into “conservation mode” on water use. We’ll have to run the generator for a couple of hours daily to charge up the batteries, but so will everyone else. This is the time of year that thousands of “snowbirds” descend on Quartzsite for the big marketplace that appears there each winter. The big RV show starts the 19th, so we’ll be there for part of that. Our current plan is to head home on the 22nd, as Geri is back in Physical Therapy on the 23rd.

Tonight, Geri’s preparing the remaining chicken pot pie while I blog, and she just gave me the signal that a) dinner’s almost ready and I’m in the way and b) her wine glass is empty so I better open tonight’s red! See ya!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2008
Peoria, AZ

Welcome to 2008! As usual, it seems that the past year has flown by, and we’re looking forward to the new year, even though we don’t have firm plans beyond the next 10 weeks. I suppose it’s time for resolutions, but we’re not big on that process so nothing’s come up in discussion. If I had to pick a couple of things, it’d be to continue our approach of eating better, fresher foods, and to continue traveling slower and off the Interstates. We’ll see…

One correction to my last post: I was wrong about what Geri was making for dinner. Well, sort of wrong. It was the same chicken stew/pot pie recipe but, instead of the large filled dough version I’d seen on the TV show she was watching, it was done in oven-proof bowls with the dough baked on top. Still excellent, though, and paired nicely with a 2000 Bordeaux from Chateau Puygueraud that I’d picked up as futures in 2001. Wine futures are a kind of crapshoot, where you pay for the wine up front, while it’s still aging and before it’s bottled, and then wait a couple of years for it to arrive. I bought three cases, each from different producers, from Zachy’s, a high-end wine retailer outside NYC. I’ve let them age; this was the first one opened. It was smooth and elegant, perhaps a little tight, and should serve us quite nicely over the next decade or so.

Yesterday was a quiet day. Geri had Physical Therapy (it seems to be helping quite a bit) and some shopping to do, and I managed to putz away the day without getting too much accomplished. We talked about having our traditional lobster feast for dinner, but I’ll have to admit I just wasn’t in the mood. Of course, this appears that I’m anti-tradition. I don’t think that’s the case, but who knows?

Instead, Geri tried another Food Network recipe she liked, and it was definitely a keeper: pasta with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. She added her own touches, a little bit of chorizo and some sautéed shrimp. We ran into our neighbor, Clisby, wile we were walking the pups and she wasn’t doing anything special, so she joined us. Because of the heavy mushroom influence, I chose a Pinot Noir, the 2004 Longoria Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido Vineyard. We’d picked up this wine early in 2007 when we visited their tasting room in Los Olivos, which is about 20 miles from where Geri’s sister lives. It’s beautiful out in the Santa Ynez valley, and we’ll visit there again in early-March.

Today, we’ll probably start packing up the holiday decorations, and it looks like I’ll finally be able to get back to shorts and sandals as it’s warming up nicely.